Sun Runs Kent County Op-Ed on Kirwan

Shelley Heller, County Administrator, Kent County
Tom Mason, President, Kent County Commissioners

The Baltimore Sun recently published an article written by Kent County Administrator Shelley Heller and Kent County Board of County Commission President Tom Mason concerning the Kirwan Blueprint legislation currently being considered by the Maryland General Assembly.

From The Baltimore Sun:

How does a jurisdiction become classified as wealthy? According to the “wealth formula,” wealth is calculated by adding a percentage of property taxes to a percentage of income tax, and dividing by the number of students in the public school system. Why does it matter? Because the results of this equation determine what percentage of the total per pupil cost is the county’s responsibility. The remainder falls to the state.

However, this equation is so oversimplified, and ignores numerous relevant variables, that it is an inaccurate and misleading way to rank our counties’ wealth. Kent County is ranked 3rd wealthiest, and while we have some beautiful waterfront estates, the median household income is 32% below the state median household income. To raise revenue to pay for the educational reform by fiscal year 2030, the county would have to raise the only tax that it is capable of raising: the property tax. In Kent County, property tax would have to be increased by 30%.

Remember, this is only the local share of the reform. State taxes to pay for their share could also be enacted statewide. This would disproportionately affect our most vulnerable residents, those whose budgets are most fragile. And that is the majority of our county.

Heller and Mason continue to speak on the need for further discussion on Kirwan and the necessity of having more consideration given to jurisdictions with a high percentage of poverty to ensure that taxpayers will be able to afford the increases.